Fire Chief Steve Sorensen wants to paint an accurate picture of what the department needs as far as fire trucks go and why.
He said there are three categories of pumper trucks and each category has a specific age limit.
A front line truck cannot be more than 15 years old; a second line no more than 20 years old; and a reserve truck no more than 25 years old and on occasion it can exceed that marker up to 30 years.
Currently the department has four trucks; one front line and one second line truck at station one and one front line at station two.
He said each department needs one reserve truck, which is Engine 204. He said there was some confusion as to the status of that truck. Engine 204 is in reserve, not retired, he said.
“If one breaks down we bring the reserve truck in,” said Sorensen. “When the ladder truck was bought in 2006, Engine 204 went to reserve status.”
He said last year at inspection the mechanic stated he would not pass Engine 204 after this year without repairs, which would amount to $30,000 to $40,000.
Sorensen said he asked to move the purchase date of a new fire truck up. The five-year budget includes a $450,000 expenditure for a new truck in 2014.
“We bought a used truck for $250,000+ instead of repairing the old truck,” said Sorensen.
He said they would not then need the funds in 2014 and they are thinking of using any excess to provide a fire station in Sunriver. Sorensen said they are working with developers to see if that can happen and “if and when a Sunriver station goes ahead we will need to put a truck there.”
The price tag for that would likely be around $250,000.
“We’re not actually spending any more money, we’re just spending it in different years,” said Sorensen.
When asked what the fire underwriters were and who they represented, Sorensen said they are a non-profit organization that evaluates a community on its fire protection capabilities and come up with a rating for both commercial and residential premises.
“Ninety per cent of insurance companies use that grade to determine the insurance rates the customer will pay,” said Sorensen. “A better grade – lower insurance.”
He said that by improving the fire department your insurance would start to go down, especially in commercial property. As an example he said that a homeowner in Silver Spray pays about $2,000/year for home insurance because of the agreement with the East Sooke Fire Department. Without the fire department there, they would pay abut $7,000.
Sooke’s grade on commercial is six out of 10, which is average for a department of its size. Sorensen said the only way Sooke could get a better grade is to start staffing a fire truck 24/7.
“The better we can get our grade, the cheaper your insurance will be,” he stated.